France, a player in global health

To address the major challenges of global health, France advocates an approach based on the principles and values of solidarity and promotion of human rights, in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution, whereby “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”.
As such, France is committed financially and takes tangible action to reduce health inequalities, to enable fair access to quality healthcare for all, and to foster the inclusion of vulnerable or marginalized groups.

Global health is a priority of France’s international development policy. France’s action to promote health is deployed through various financial and political commitments within international programmes and organizations.

Following the meeting of the Presidential Council for Development on 5 May 2023, the members of the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) adopted new guidelines for international cooperation and official development assistance policy. One of the ten policy priorities is to strengthen resilience when it comes to health risks, including pandemics, by investing in health systems and supporting training for healthcare personnel in fragile countries.

France’s Strategy for Global Health 2023-2027

This new strategy reaffirms France’s historic commitment to global health, and supports renewed ambitions. The aim is to respond to the imperatives of equity and solidarity, to further commit to the prevention of diseases and the promotion of healthcare, and to better take into account the interdependencies between climate change, ecosystem protection and health, while preparing for future emergencies. France therefore aims to give research and science a greater role, and to strengthen the global health architecture.

France’s strategy identifies five priorities:

  • Promoting fair, lasting, resilient, adaptable and people-oriented health systems to achieve universal health coverage (UHC);
  • Promoting population health and well-being; preventing and combating diseases at all ages;
  • Better anticipating, preventing, preparing for and addressing public health emergencies and climate change, taking a One Health approach;
  • Promoting a new global health architecture, drawing on the complementarity of French bilateral and multilateral action;
  • Making research and public and private expertise levers for action and influence to serve the Strategy for Global Health.

Coordinated by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MSP) and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR), the French Strategy for Global Health is the fruit of collaboration involving a wide swathe of French actors working in this field: public agencies, civil society organizations, higher education and research organizations, scientific institutions, foundations, organizations of human, animal and environmental health specialists, local government bodies and the private sector.

Considerable persistent health challenges

Great progress has been made in the last two decades, particularly when it comes to maternal and child health and the fight against the major pandemics. Between 2000 and 2017, maternal mortality fell by 37%, while mortality among children aged under five years fell by half between 2000 and 2020. Three quarters of people which HIV worldwide now have access to antiretroviral therapy.

But major disparities persist. In 2020, more than 287,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth, with 70% of these cases in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2022, 1.3 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 630,000 died of it. Today, almost half of the world’s population has no form of health coverage. Each year, more than 100 million people fall into extreme poverty because of uncovered health costs.

The COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupted all health services. According to WHO data, 92% of Member States reported disruption to their health systems, for almost half of the services being monitored. For example, screening of tuberculosis and access to its treatment fell considerably during the pandemic, and mortality rose, endangering the progress made towards the target of eradication by 2035.

Above and beyond the direct impact of the COVID-19 crisis on health services, it revealed a flagrant lack of investment in national health systems and public health institutions, flaky mechanisms for preventing, preparing for and responding to global health threats, and limited adoption and implementation of the One Health approach.

Combating the major pandemics

France is very committed to the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the eradication of which is enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Improving access to healthcare for all women and girls

In 2021, with Mexico and under the auspices of UN Women, France co-organized the Generation Equality Forum which raised the historic sum of $40 billion from States, civil society, international organizations, youth organizations and the private sector. France pledged €400 million for the period 2021-2025, to support women’s freedom of control over their own bodies.

In its feminist foreign policy, France is particularly attentive to sexual and reproductive health and rights. It launched its second strategy in this area on 8 March 2023, notably enshrining the right to abortion as a priority.

One of the key programmes to improve the health of women, children and adolescents is the French Muskoka Fund, which works in six West and Central African countries (Benin, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Togo). The French Muskoka Fund brings together complementary expertise from four United Nations entities (WHO, UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF), which draw up and implement a common work programme.

Fostering a coordinated global response to health challenges

To build a coordinated response to global public health challenges, France supports the essential role played by WHO. In 2020, it was particularly active in bringing about the creation of the WHO Academy in Lyon.
In supporting WHO, France contributes to the organization’s “triple billion” targets for 2023:

  • One billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage;
  • One billion more people better protected from health emergencies;
  • One billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

In order to learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and better anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, France is participating actively in ongoing discussions and negotiations for an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, and the review of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR). These negotiations should guarantee the foundations for a more inclusive global health architecture that protects the many, particularly regarding future pandemics.

France is also involved in the Pandemic Fund, a financial tool hosted by the World Bank that helps countries with pandemic prevention and preparedness through investment and technical support. Since its launch, the Pandemic Fund has raised more than $2 billion from 25 countries and philanthropic organizations, including €50 million from France (2022-2025).

Strengthening health systems and achieving universal health coverage

Today, nearly one billion people do not have access to basic health services and nearly 100 million people every year are plunged into poverty by the cost of healthcare. In response, France has adopted a cross-cutting approach focused on health system strengthening. The aim is to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) in order to guarantee access for all to quality health services without the risk of financial difficulties. To advocate for UHC at the highest level and coordinate efforts to promote its extension, France is a member of the International Health Partnership for UHC2030, a movement that brings together States, international organizations and civil society, and the Providing for Health (P4H) network, gathering major health financing actors and their experts.

Promoting the One Health approach

France advocates at a high level for the mainstreaming and systematic implementation of the One Health approach, which seeks to balance and improve human, animal and ecosystem health in the long term so as to reduce the risks of emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases and the propagation of pandemics.

In this context, France launched the international PREZODE (Preventing Zoonotic Disease Emergence) initiative in January 2021. PREZODE seeks to deepen synergies between research and operational work to prevent pandemics and strengthen human, animal and environmental health networks, in accordance with the One Health approach. As of 1 October 2023, 25 countries and more than 220 organizations, universities and research institutes have expressed support for PREZODE by signing its Declaration of Intent. France is also closely following the work and recommendations of the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) launched by the Quadripartite (WHO, WOAH, FAO, UNEP), which incorporates the One Health approach.

France’s commitment in figures

  • More than $9.5 billion contributed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since its creation in 2002, and €1.6 billion pledged for the period 2023-2025: an increase of 23% over the period 2020-2022;
  • More than €2 billion contributed since 2006 to UNITAID, which aims to produce innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in low-income countries;
  • €500 million contributed to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for the period 2021-2025;
  • €50 million contributed to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) for the period 2022-2026;
  • Almost €300 million in bilateral and multilateral contributions via the MAV+ Team Europe initiative to strengthen regional production of health products in Africa;
  • More than €110 million invested in the French Muskoka Fund for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health;
  • €574 million invested in 2019 by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) in health and social protection;
  • €510 million for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) for COVAX (vaccines);
  • €1.2 billion since 2020 to response to the COVID-19 public health crisis in the most vulnerable countries;
  • €50 million dedicated to pandemic prevention and preparedness via the Pandemic Fund;
  • €400 million for sexual and reproductive health and rights over the period 2021-2025.

Who are the field actors in these efforts?

Team France encompasses all French actors involved in the field of global health, steering their action in accordance with the priorities of France’s Strategy for Global Health and complying with its guiding principles. Team France is thus made up of institutional actors, local governments, public agencies, civil society organizations, foundations, scientific institutions, researchers, organizations of health professionals (human, animal and environmental) and private sector actors.

France also has an extensive diplomatic and expert network, with 11 regional global health advisers based across Africa and Asia, 18 social affairs advisers in Europe, the Americas and Asia, and more than 70 international technical experts for health, funded by France and posted to international and regional organizations and partner country administrations.

Updated: October 2023